Event Security Planning

February 25, 2014

The Ball is In Your Court
By Katharine M. Nohr, J.D.

Security planning has recently been highly publicized in relation to the Super Bowl and the Olympic Games in Sochi.  High profile events and those that attract thousands of attendees and participants, such as the Boston Marathon, are potential terrorist targets, because of the media attention that will bring the terrorist’s message to the public.  Your sporting events very likely will not attract millions of television viewers, but that doesn’t mean that security shouldn’t be of prime consideration when you develop you risk management plan.

The first step to evaluating security needs begins with risk assessment.  What possible scenarios can you foresee at your event?  In order to evaluate this, you should look at the history of your organization’s events and considered what problems have occurred at similar events in your region and in other locales.  Have you had problems with fights breaking out in the stands?  Are you concerned about attendees carrying weapons?  Is there a risk of a riot post game?
    Once you’ve identified the risks, consider what security measures should be implemented in order to minimize or eliminate such risks.  You will likely not need a no fly zone as the Super Bowl does, but will need to protect the perimeters of your event with sufficient security personnel so as to limit entry to only ticketed, rule compliant patrons.  In order to keep dangerous objects and substances out of the facility, decide what level of inspection upon entry makes sense.  Ticket holders may have to be subjected to bag or person searches or go through metal detectors; you may limit the items that they are permitted to bring and enforce this; or, you may simply have security do a visual scan of attendees for possible dangerous items.

The Boston Marathon bombing provides an example of the need to pay close attention to abandoned packages or items in a playing field that is open to spectators.  Low profile events with relatively few participants and little or no media coverage will likely not be targets of terrorists, but training security and reminding patrons to look for and report abandoned items is a good practice.

If alcohol is served at your event, there are the added security issues of dealing with intoxicated patrons.  Rules regarding service and use of alcohol should be in place so that consumption can be diminished and timed.  For example, the number of alcoholic beverages that can be purchased by an individual can be limited; cutting off service by a certain time so as to reduce the chance of driving while intoxicated; and checking all purchasers’ identifications so that minors are not being served.

If the teams playing are rivals or there is some concern about the safety of players, security personnel may be necessary for the teams, including in or near locker rooms.  Of particular consideration is post game when fans could become unruly either in the facility or outside.  Sufficient security personnel should be provided in those situations.  You’ll need to consult local law enforcement organizations to discuss your concerns and arrange for police officers to provide security at your event.
In short, in order to have a comprehensive risk management plan, you should:
1.     Assess your security needs.
2.    Decide what security measures should be implemented at your event.
3.    Implement the security measures.
4.    Re-evaluate after the event to determine the sufficiency of the security provided.

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